9 Shop-tastic New Reasons to Hit the Galleria

Get ready for new and remodeled stores and a couple of big names making their Houston debut.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen March 23, 2016

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A rendering of the new retail wing that will be anchored by the new Saks Fifth Avenue.

It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said that you can't step in the same river twice, as it's always changing (and so are you). Lately the same could be said of the Galleria, which seems to exist in a permanent state of flux. Houston's OG shopping mecca is remaking itself, with new-to-Houston stores opening throughout 2016 and high-style renovations shuffling existing boutiques. Here's nine recent or upcoming tweaks you need to know about—before you pick a parking lot.

1. The Re-Invention of Saks

In February Saks Fifth Avenue debuted plans for its new Galleria location, which will open April 28 adjacent to the current location on the west end of the mall with a flurry of grand opening events and a boutique-heavy design that responds to modern consumer preferences. Galleria owner Simon will invest $250 million to build out 110,000 square feet of retail space in the existing Saks space, creating a new luxury wing that will stretch from the new Saks all the way to Neiman Marcus.

2. Welcome to the Jewel Box

The construction of a free-standing "jewel box" building across from the Cheesecake Factory entrance is another facet of the quarter-billion renovation and expansion. Respected Miami boutique The Webster opened its first location outside of Florida inside of this building in January, to be joined later this year by Michelin-starred dim sum teahouse Yauatcha, the restaurant's first location in the Western Hemisphere.

3. Get Ready for Red Soles

Nothing makes a shoe-lover's heart go a-flutter quite like a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. Details are still sketchy—there's no set date or exact location yet—but the famed French shoemaker has announced plans to open its first Houston boutique at the Galleria in 2016.

4. Namaste is Here To Stay

Another Galleria newbie is yoga wear/athleisure brand Athleta. The fast-growing Gap-owned brand already has locations in Town & Country and Rice Village, and in June it will add a 3,000-square-foot boutique in Galleria IV between Free People and White House | Black Market. 

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A Saint Laurent store as designed by Hedi Slimane.

5. Saint Laurent Gets Swanky

When Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane was installed in 2012, he debuted a sleek new vision for the brand's boutiques featuring rich materials (hello, marble everything), architectural lines and a subtle French art deco aesthetic on a clean black and white color palette. The Galleria location is in the process of getting its Slimane-approved makeover, and might even rival the revamped Chanel store nearby for opulence when it reopens in Galleria I in May. Until then, Saint Laurent lovers can shop the temporary location on the second floor of the same wing, next to Joia.

6. New French Luxury

Though it doesn't have the name recognition of a Prada or a Gucci, Céline is the ne plus ultra of chic contemporary design. Since taking the helm in 2008, creative director Phoebe Philo has been named Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council and International Designer of the Year by the CFDA, and she's proven to be a master of designing the most covetable handbags in the business. What I'm saying is that those who like to invest in their closet should be excited that Céline is opening the brand's first boutique in Texas at the Galleria this year.

7. Movers and Shakers

Even longtime Galleria tenants are switching out their storefronts. Hugo Boss opens in Galleria I next to Rolex in April, Coach just switched over to Galleria IV (the Nordstrom wing), and Cole Haan has debuted in Galleria II across from Kate Spade, which is adjacent to luxe luggage brand Tumi's temporary location. Michael Kors will debut its new spot in Galleria I next to Burberry in May, the same month Ann Taylor opens in Galleria II. Got it?

8. A Makeup Upgrade

Everything MAC Cosmetics does is over-the-top amazing, and that includes the renovations currently underway at the brand's store in Galleria II next to Victoria's Secret. The permanent space will be completed in May, but until then shoppers can find their Ruby Woo just upstairs on level two.

9. New Yorkers, Rejoice

After two years of fevered rumors, some little burger place called Shake Shack has announced it is opening its first Houston location in the Galleria. Renderings imply it will have direct exterior access and a little patio—hardly Madison Square Park, but it's a start.

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